West Ham apologise for Man United bus attack

West Ham’s owners have apologised for the attack on Manchester United’s team bus outside Upton Park and warned there will be consequences.
West Ham apologise for Man United bus attack

Co-owner David Gold suggested it highlighted the importance of the club’s move to the Olympic Stadium, while David Sullivan vowed the club would ban any identifiable perpetrators for life.

A section of fans attacked Manchester United’s bus as it approached the ground before West Ham’s 3-2 win on Tuesday evening, the last game to be played at Upton Park.

Bottles were also thrown at visiting goalkeeper David de Gea during the match.

When asked yesterday if the trouble highlighted the importance of West Ham’s imminent move to the London 2012 athletics stadium, Gold said: “I think it does, doesn’t it?

“You can see sadly what happened was we had a situation of having probably 45,000 fans and the infrastructure can’t cope with it.”

Gold added: “It was clear evidence of what we’ve been saying all along — to fans that are saying ‘We want to stay at Upton Park, let’s develop it, we’re only moving for other reasons, not footballing reasons’ — you can’t develop West Ham any further.

“It is completely at its capacity, 35,000 is all that it can cope with, and you saw that. There was 45,000 fans there and they gridlocked the East End of London. I’m sure the (overcrowding) was a factor (to the violent scenes).

“The new stadium has got five train stations. What we had was tens of thousands of fans in the streets: You can’t have that. Modern stadiums have all got overspill areas. Upton Park doesn’t.”

As well as bottles being thrown at De Gea, a fan invaded the pitch to confront the Spaniard.

Three men were arrested during the game, including a 20-year-old on suspicion of affray and a 47-year-old and 18-year-old for pitch incursion.

The FA has contacted both clubs for their observations and liaised with police as part of the ongoing investigations.

While Gold apologised for the attack on United’s bus, he appeared unaware of the trouble inside the ground.

“We’re all very, very sorry for what happened,” he said. “If we could have done anything to avoid it then we would have done, but it is outside of our jurisdiction, these are fans outside of our responsibility and inside the ground everything was perfect.

“But it’s not an issue for us, because that was outside the ground, our job is to deal with the issues inside, and of course we did.

“We had a fantastic evening, the fans were so absolutely exemplary (inside Upton Park), a great evening of football: It’s not often we beat the mighty Manchester United.”

West Ham recovered from trailing 2-1 to score twice in the final 15 minutes, securing a 3-2 victory to conclude 112 years at their popular stadium after their winning goal from Winston Reid.

“Obviously we’re disappointed about the events outside of the stadium, but as for the success, the match was one of the best matches in the history of West Ham,” added Gold.

After bottles and other missiles were flung at United’s late-arriving team bus, kick-off was delayed by 45 minutes.

Sullivan had initially blamed the Red Devils for the delay to kick-off, with the Hammers co-chairman saying on Tuesday evening: “If you check the coach there won’t be any damage to it.”

Those comments were contrary to the images of smashed windows and led Sullivan to release a statement yesterday in which he reiterated West Ham’s vow to hand down life bans to the culprits.

“If we were to have scripted how our final game at the Boleyn would have played out, it wouldn’t have been much different to last night’s match,” the joint-chairman said.

He added: “Sadly, the actions of very small minority of people outside the ground prior to kick-off risks overshadowing those celebrations.

“I want to be clear — their behaviour was completely unacceptable and does not represent our club or our values.

“When I was asked about the incident prior to yesterday’s game, I was unaware of the damage that had occurred to the Manchester United team bus.

“I want to apologise to Manchester United for that damage and assure them that we will be doing all we can to track down those responsible and ban them for life.”

Defeat put United’s hopes of reaching the Champions League out of their hands ahead of the final weekend of fixtures and left Michael Carrick a frustrated figure.

United need to beat Bournemouth and hope Manchester City lose at Swansea as their far superior goal difference means a draw at the Liberty Stadium would be enough for Manuel Pellegrini’s men.

“We have to (stay focused), that’s the situation that has presented itself now,” midfielder Carrick said.

“We were in control of it going into the West Ham game but we’ve let it slip. We have to win our last league game now and then see what happens.

“It’s no good for us. We got ourselves back in the game and then didn’t really help ourselves with giving away free-kicks. We have to be cleverer than that.

“We put ourselves under pressure by letting them put the ball in the box. In the end that’s won them the game and we’re very disappointed.”

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